Chhimi Dema

Now that Thimphu is under the second lockdown, people are finding ways to keep themselves engaged through various means — reading, attending online conferences, and watching television.

Bhutan Biodemocracy and Resilience Conference, for example, saw more than 300 people attend through zoom on Monday.

The conference’s Facebook page had more than 100 shares and 30,000 views.

The conference was organised by the centre for local governance and research (CLG) in collaboration with the University of Westminster, the UK.

The thematic areas of discussions in the conference were economic vulnerability and climate change, volunteerism and public health, local governments, agriculture, employment, hydropower and tourism

The conference organiser, Tharchen from CLG, said that the thematic areas for the conference were on the sectors impacted by the pandemic situation and highlights the preparation, reflections and recoveries in these areas.

Tharchen said: “The objective of the conference is to provide a platform for citizens to share their views for a public discourse.”

The conference received a huge number of observers and participants. This is an opportunity for CLG to engage people, Tharchen said.

A conference attendee, Tashi Dhendup, a university student, said that the online conference provided him with the opportunity to gain knowledge while at home.

He said: “Experts from different fields gather to discuss various topics providing us with facts and figures broadening our knowledge.”

Pema Wangmo, a corporate employee, said that even in times like this, leveraging on technology she could share her views and opinion.

She said: “The Bhutan Biodemocracy and Resilience Conference gave insights into the activities initiated by the organisations and agencies to combat Covid-19.”

Sangay Khandu from CLG said that the conference was held to encourage discussion amongst the public and for decision-makers to understand what views citizens hold.

“Especially in the light of Covid-19, continual ground feedback is critical to make quick adjustments if a policy is not working,” said Sangay Khandu. “Discussions like these will add to other forms of feedback to inform the decision-makers.”

Sangay Khandu said that the conference aimed to share Bhutanese narrative to the world which largely remains untold.

“Citizen voices besides government statements and formal media report play an important factor in that narrative,” Sangay Khandu said.

At the conclusion of the conference yesterday, areas such as agriculture, employment, hydropower and tourism were discussed.